The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs for over two decades and they don’t appear to be ready to surrender that streak by missing the postseason this year. They helped themselves last night with a 3-0 win over the fading Nashville Predators to go up by two points on the surging Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Wings have six games remaining and are now tied with the Minnesota Wild for seventh in the west. While the Wings look poised to make the playoffs for the twenty-second straight year, nothing can be guaranteed until that final buzzer sounds to end this year’s 48-game schedule.
The loss of Nicklas Lidstrom certainly hurts the Wings, but the bigger story line from the motor city is the number of injuries that the team has endured. Key injuries to their blue line along with forwards such as Todd Bertuzzi and Damien Brunner have hand cuffed the Red Wings this year. But like so many well coached teams by Mike Babcock, the Wings refuse to let these issues derail them from their goal. If I was a betting man, I’d take the Wings to make the playoffs and once they get in, they could be ready for an upset much like the LA Kings last year.
Speaking of the Wings and the playoffs, their potential first round opponent was also on the ice last night in the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks beat the St. Louis Blues, shutting them out 2-0 to inch closer to securing the top spot in the west and home ice-advantage throughout the playoffs.
You do have to wonder about the Hawks though. They haven’t played a real meaningful game for quite some time and while they have dominated all year long, if they were to match up with a team like the Wings or Blues in the playoffs who have been playing for their postseason lives, the Blackhawks could be tested and pushed to the brink in the first round.
Ultimately I think this Hawks team is too talented to lose out early this spring. It’s too bad this was an abbreviated schedule. With a record of 32-5-4 the Hawks could have made a run at the regular season record for most wins.
The Buffalo Sabres kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Buffalo remains four points back of the eighth place New York Rangers and the good news is that they only have to surpass the Winnipeg Jets and then the Rangers. The bad news is they’ve played a league high 43 games and only have five contests remaining. The Sabres will have to run the table to have any shot and even that might not be enough.
Eight games are on tap tonight on the ice with everyone having implications on playoff positioning. We’ll catch ya tomorrow on the Morning After.